By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – From the beginning of the 1980s to 2016, the total percentage of homicides in the country committed with firearms rose from forty percent to 71 percent according to the Atlas of Violence 2018 released earlier this month by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) and the Brazilian Forum of Public Security (FBSP).

Brazil, Illegal weapons and ammunition apprehended near Rocinha favela community
Illegal weapons and ammunition apprehended near Rocinha favela community, photo by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil.

According to the survey, between 1980 and 2016, 910,000 people were killed by firearms in the country, while deaths by other means remained stable since the early 1990s.

Researchers say the increased ownership of guns was motivated by economic stagnation which led the state to fail to provide security for the population and an attempt by citizens to defend themselves. The increase, according to data, was interrupted only in 2003, with the Disarmament Statute.

“There is an estimate that the Disarmament Statute, despite never being implemented in its completeness, still managed to be responsible for a reduction in the growth of homicides,” said FBSP researcher David Marques.

In large cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, poorer communities suffered the most with the increased availability of guns. Gun battles have become more common in favela communities, such as Rocinha and the Mare Complex.

In 2016 alone more than 62,000 were murdered in Brazil says the report; the equivalent to a rate of 30.3 persons per 100,000 inhabitants. The number of violent deaths in Brazil corresponds to thirty times that of Europe for the same period.

“This signals very clearly the importance of having a consistent policy of firearms removal, especially illegal firearms, but also of controlling legitimate firearms so that we can have fewer crimes. Because a lot of research has shown that fewer guns are less crimes,” concludes Marques.

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